Staff Book Reviews
Very unique book - I loved the characterization, and although the plot could be a little slow at points, it allowed you to fully immerse yourself in this strange, confusing world. What I think I loved most about the book was that it was more than just a love story. I really liked the fact that Natalie was learning to love herself for being different. She had a strong best friend who loved her no matter what kind of stories she was told, and she had a family who adored her. This is a book I know I will be thinking about for a while!
Wow. Another amazing historical novel by Ms. Sepetys. At first I wasn't sure about the short chapters that alternated by point of view, but by the end I didn't even notice. Beautiful writing, emotional story of a tragedy that I'm sure most people aren't even aware of. Good grief, I'm wrung out after reading this beautiful novel.
The world is burning, one person at a time. A new sort of plague, a spore known colloquially as Dragonscale, is infecting hundreds of thousands around the globe. It begins with something small. It gets into your head. It grows. You feel fine until you see it on your skin-a small stripe, like a gold-flecked stain. You might even mistake it for a bruise at first. But then you know you have it. You know that you’re going to burn, and it’s only a question of when. No one knows exactly how it spreads, and there’s no sign of a cure short of being killed before you ignite. You’ll smoke a bit first, and then you’ll combust, unless someone decides to end your life before then.
In the midst of the chaos is Harper Willowes, a Portsmouth nurse who sincerely wishes for nothing more than to be able to help others through the crisis. She volunteers her services caring for the infected while her husband Jakob works for the Public Works Department, helping to clean up the devestation left behind by the burning infected. It’s at work that Harper first meets the Fireman. He brings a child in for treatment, not for the Dragonscale covering him, but for a ruptured appendix. After the boy, Nick, is taken in for surgery, the Fireman vanishes. A few days later, Nick is gone as well, leaving only questions in his wake. Then, disaster strikes and the Portsmouth Hospital burns to the ground. Harper escapes, but soon makes two discoveries. She’s pregnant and she has the ‘scale. Believing himself to be infected as well, Jakob snaps and Harper is forced to flee for her life and that of her unborn child.
When all seems lost, the Fireman intervenes. He rescues Harper from Jakob’s pursuit and secrets her away to a small camp where over a hundred and fifty infected are living in hiding, including Nick. Living and thriving, to Harper’s great surprise. While there’s no cure for the spore, the people of the camp have found a way to live in harmony with the Dragonscale, under the leadership of Nick’s grandfather. Harper’s medical skills quickly make her indispensable. The camp, however, is no paradise. As panic grips the nation, marauders seek to eliminate any infected. Harper only wants to survive long enough to deliver her baby, but internal power struggles in the camp threaten to expose them all to the roving Cremation Crews. The Fireman may be the only one who can save them all, but he hides a dark secret of his own.
Joe Hill takes on an apocalypse of his own, one that rivals The Stand in scope and violence (not to mention pop culture references). As the world around them burns, his characters must face the fact that other humans may be a greater threat to them than the Dragonscale ever was. The Fireman is a hell of a ride from beginning to end, and is every bit as intense as the flames it evokes. Go check it out.
After a tragic accident she caused that led to the death of her father and sister, teenage Hollywood star Pagan Jones has a second chance at life when the mysterious Devin Jones shows up at Lighthouse Reformatory for Wayward Girls and offers her a proposition: a part in an upcoming movie filming in Berlin in exchange for her freedom. While it seemed too good to be true, Pagan reluctantly agrees and is sent to Berlin. Pagan personifies the sassy movie star of the fifties, which makes her a fun protagonist--but she still has plenty of depth and flaws that make her interesting as well. Set in the simmering tensions of the Cold War, this thriller/mystery is fast moving and will satisfy the historical fiction buff as well as those who like a good mystery!
Told through recovered computer documents, Illuminae tells the story of Kady and Ezra fighting to survive after a rival mining company destroys their colony and they and the rest of the survivors are fleeing on an damaged fleet while being pursued by the enemy warship. What follows are pages of IM chats, reports, and emails recovered to tell their story of rebellion and survival. When a mysterious illness starts to affect other refugees, it adds a whole other dimension to this story. This was a such a unique take on science fiction--telling the story through recovered documents as two teens fight the system so they can stay alive and stay together--a fast and exciting read!
For fans of Game of Thrones (although I have only watched the show, not read the books, so fair warning!). Told simultaneously through five different characters, Herman takes the real life figure of Alexander the Great and infuses the time period with magic and mythical figures. Twists and new revelations are around every corner and will keep the reader guessing until the end!
A solid and original high fantasy title. Sabriel knows her father, who has taken her into Death before, has an unusual occupation. But she doesn't realize just how serious it is until her boarding school is attacked by the dead and she has to journey into the Old Kingdom to save her father and the rest of the world. While at times a little slow in the beginning, the build-up to the action-packed end is more than worth it.
Very good, as all Katherine Paterson novels are. A quick read, and like her other novels, it shows rather than tells. My only problem with the book was the ending was too abrupt for my taste. I would have liked for it to be longer and show her life with her grandmother and the effects of Courtney's visit.
Brimming with snappy dialogue, mistaken identity, and lots of musical references, "Bellweather Rhapsody" is a raucous read. The book takes place at a high school music festival so its full of hilarious yet relatable high school drama and hijinks. When a high school flute prodigy goes missing and the festival participants get snowed in at the Bellweather Hotel, the festival gets even more chaotic. The book does have some dark elements - there's a fair amount of murder. For fans of dark comedies like "Big Little Lies".
Anyone who knows me may realize that this is not my normal topic of interest. However, I do enjoying reading about different perspectives and life experiences from mine. That said, Chris Kyle and I have almost nothing in common as far as beliefs and interests go, but we do have love for country and loyalty to friends and family in common. Of course, he's about as tough as they come. Way tougher than me. I'm sure I would not have been able to do what he did even if I had wanted to. However, I found as I was reading this book that Kyle had a lot of interesting observations about the Iraq War from a front lines perspective. The stories were intense and engaging. I didn't get into the weapons geekery at all, but I'm guessing his target (har!) audience did. Really, a very good book about the front lines experience of a Navy SEAL.
I'm not a teen, so I'm obviously not the target audience. The first half of this book was very good and even made me cry. The fact that Ruby's sister was so brave and protected her in her quiet way was very powerful. I loved how her experience protecting Ruby shaped her career and life's purpose. However, once the book got beyond that point it devolved into the naval gazing so common in teen fiction. Too much introspection and obvious symbolism explained by the narrator made for a tedious second half. If the author could have kept up the power of the first half, this would be a 5 star review.
This book was a very hard read for me. Not because of the writing, but because of the subject matter. I had just placed my father and his wife into a continuing care community when my book club chose this book. The stories of lost independence and the price of safety on quality of life hit me hard. After they moved in my dad went straight to Memory Care. His freedom is gone and he feels it keenly. It's true that he's safe, but I feel like I had a hand in ending his freedom. Of course in my head I know this isn't true, the circumstances were - and still are - way beyond my control, but still.
The takeaway from this book is to communicate clearly with your loved ones what you want as an end-of-life plan. Also, it's important to take an active role in choosing help and help communities. Finally, hospice is a far more humane way to treat the end-of-life experience than heroic measures and ICU. Quality of life is the most important thing and this is defined on a individual basis.
I loved this book. I felt like I was right there in post-WWI Paris amongst the Lost Generation and the great writers of that time. Having studied literature in college, I appreciated the insight into the mysterious personalities of Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein. I also liked the way the author portrayed the Fitzgeralds. While this is a work of historical fiction, it was based off of detailed research and correspondences of that time. I've never been a fan of Hemingway's works, and honestly I'm still not a fan, but Hadley was fascinating. It's telling that his second wife is just a flash in the pan, while Hadley is regarded as his great love. I've got A Moveable Feast on my list to read now
This book was so beautifully written. It was sparse and clean, but so powerful. It made me cry. I highly recommend this quick read.
This was a very informative, and honestly slightly scary book. The takeaway is to heed your intuition and gut-feeling regarding the safety of your children. We brought Zoe to a Kidpower workshop, which was just wonderful. Zoe now has some tools to keep herself safe and I feel a bit less worried. Still worried of course, but a bit less... I definitely recommend this book to all parents, especially mothers.
This autobiography written in free verse by Jacqueline Woodson is an excellent insight into growing up as an African American girl in the 1960's.
It is a very moving portrayal of the role of family (grandparents, parents, uncles & aunts and siblings) in a life of a child. The author also gives the reader a definite sense of place, whether it is Ohio, South Carolina or Brooklyn, NY. Highly recommended.
A great book with mini biographies of 7 men who made choices that changed their society and left legacies for us. The writing style is informal. I learned things about these famous men that I hadn't known before.
A great inspirational book for teens and adults.
When she discovers that her mother actually is sick back in Cleveland, Mim steals a thousand dollar emergency cash fund from her stepmother and hops a Greyhound bus headed north. The details of Mim’s personal story are revealed through the reflections she writes in her journal. Her musings are frequently funny, super snarky and make the motley crew she meets along the way more memorable.
She says of her bus driver:
“I’ve only known two other Carls in my lifetime—an insurgent moonshiner and a record store owner—both of whom taught me important... life lessons.
In my book, Carls are a top-notch species”.
On the bus, the thousand-mile journey takes a few turns that Mim could never see coming. Then she must define what it means to be a Mim.
I could really relate to Willowdean who does not have a skinny body yet decides to enter the local teen pageant. It takes a lot of guts for her to enter and it challenges her relationship with her mom who runs the pageant. Willowdean also works with Bo who likes her a lot, but she has a hard time believing it since she is her own worst critic of her weight. I love books with unique and complex characters and Willowdean is definitely that! Highly recommended.
This book made me cry. I read it in one sitting. It took me about 3 hours. I just kept turning the pages as fast as possible. It was beautifully written. I just felt for George and wanted to protect her from all her pain. I'm not transgendered and I don't know how it feels to be so, but I imagine that this is exactly right. Wonderful.